West Elk Loop

The remarkable drive known as the West Elk Loop Scenic and Historic Byway resembles a lasso around the West Elk Mountains. It spans some of Colorado’s most spectacular scenery and is likely the closest you can come to a wilderness experience in a passenger car. Up here, the drive is about the massive mountain landscapes and the joy of mountain driving. You’ll be in awe of geological wonders like Mount Sporis, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, White River National Forest, Gunnison National Forest, Glenwood Springs and the West Elk Wilderness. Yet, the Byway is not just about the beauty of Colorado’s rugged landscapes. People have lived in the area for more than 5,000 years. Like so many other areas in Colorado, miners, farmers, and stone cutters came in droves, but mining here is more about coal, marble and other hard rock resources than gold and silver. Fertile soil made ranching co-equal, with expansive ranches established centuries ago still growing fruit and raising cattle. As of late, producing art glass, ironwork and weaving have found their way to the area, adding a new dimension to the region’s culture.